Reading this article will teach you what a public adjuster does and whether you need one for your insurance claim.
I have worked with a lot of public adjusters on Florida insurance claims over the years. Most public adjusters I have worked with were good and able advocates for my clients. The public adjusters I continue to work with are honest and true professionals. So what is a public adjuster and what do they do?
What is a public adjuster?
A public adjuster is anyone, except a licensed lawyer, who completes or files an insurance claim for another or who for a fee or commission aids another in the negotiation or settlement of an insurance claim. A public adjuster must be licensed in Florida with the Department of Financial Services. Public adjusters work for homeowners and insureds. Independent adjusters work for insurance companies. The primary task of a public adjuster is to assess an insurance claim, calculate the damages and attempt to settle the claim with the insurance company.
What does a public adjuster do?
A public adjuster will inspect your property, attempt to determine a cause of loss, and write a repair estimate. In preparing a repair estimate, the public adjuster will take measurements of your home, make an inventory of damaged personal property, photograph the damages, and often uses the same software that insurance companies use to calculate the damages. In performing these tasks, the public adjuster will be present when the insurance company inspects your home and will communicate with the insurance company representatives. The public adjuster will also assist you in gathering any documents that the insurance company requests. Finally, the public adjuster will track your claim and attempt to make sure that it is resolved in a timely fashion while trying to obtain the best payment on your behalf.
How is a public adjuster paid?
Public adjusters normally work on a commission basis in which their fee is a percentage of the total monies obtained for the insurance claim. The normal fee percentage charged is between 10 to 20 percent of the insurance claim recovery. A public adjuster must give you a written contract and all insureds must sign the contract. The written contract must contain the agreed fee to be charged and the insured has the right to cancel the contract within three business days with no further obligation.
What can’t a public adjuster do?
A public adjuster cannot give you legal advice. A public adjuster should not interpret your insurance policy or make coverage determinations. A public adjuster cannot represent your interests at an examination under oath. A public adjuster should not be corresponding with a lawyer representing the insurance company. A public adjuster cannot sue the insurance company if you are not paid all that you are owed for your insurance claim. For all of these things, you will need a Florida insurance lawyer.
Do you need a public adjuster?
Whether you need a public adjuster is entirely up to you and whether you want to pay for those services. Public adjusters can perform valuable services in assisting homeowners with their insurance claims. I work with public adjusters all the time and we make a great team. A Florida insurance lawyer can handle an insurance claim from start to finish. A public adjuster can start the claim but only a Florida insurance lawyer can finish that claim with a lawsuit if the insurance company does not make a fair payment to you. The help you need and want for your insurance claim is for you to decide.
About the Author: Patrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. Patrick started his insurance law practice more than twenty years ago when he represented homeowners and business owners for their Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. The purpose of this article is educational and not for the solicitation of legal services. The goal is to avoid the mistakes learned from the past, specifically those from previous windstorms. Knowledge is power. Information is free. Mistakes are costly. If you would like more tips on how to process your Florida insurance claim, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.